There are a lot of studies emerging that show that organizations are wasting valuable time and money on poorly organized meetings. One such study was done by Doodle in their State of Meetings 2019 report. They estimate $399 billion dollars in the U.S. alone is wasted because of ineffective meetings in the workplace. That’s a lot of money!

Over the past year, I have spoken on this subject at many conferences in a talk I created called The Terrible, No Good, Very Great Meeting. I wanted to find a way that, in my own little corner of the world, I could call attention to the problems we all experience with meetings and incite attendees to fix them within their own environments.

To kick off my talk I ask the group to generate ideas based on this invitation: “What can you do to create the worst meeting you have ever attended?”

We have a bit of fun to start this session by exploring how attendees can create a terrible meeting (within moral and ethical boundaries of course). But next, I ask them to be open and admit things they are doing themselves to contribute to issues with meetings in the workplace. After several times of doing this talk, I started noticing patterns emerging:

  1. Being unprepared
  2. Not everyone in attendance participating (people are checking emails or doing work during the meeting)
  3. Never starting on time
  4. Having too many people in the room

Do these look familiar in the meetings you are attending or facilitating today? If I think back through my career, any meeting that didn’t have at least one of these symptoms was an exception.

As I write this, the world is coping with a pandemic that has largely seen the US knowledge workforce temporarily transition to a work from home model. Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to fix the problems with our less than effective meetings.

How do we combat the findings of that 2019 Doodle survey? Let’s discuss some creative ways to counter the four trends above with a specific focus on how we can work remotely given the climate of the times:

  1. Simply Put: Prepare – If you schedule the meeting, then it is your responsibility to prepare for the meeting. Scheduling for someone else? Stop doing it! There needs to be one person that takes ownership of preparation and running the meeting, and it must be the owner of the calendar invite. Preparation is much more than preparing an agenda (although that is helpful). Ask yourself these questions:
    • What is the intended outcome of the meeting?
    • Do I have the appropriate tools and facilitation techniques prepared to create action at the conclusion of the meeting?
    • How am I immediately going to bring attention to the purpose?
    • Are the right people invited? (which leads to the next point…)


  1. <